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‘Heather and Red Deer on Exmoor’.

This oil painting commission was very personal. To help someone to remember his Granny and family farm on Exmoor. Paul asked for there to be lots of heather, windswept trees and possibly a Red Deer stag. However, he didn’t want the stag to be too prominent in the painting.


First working drawing
I already had taken some photographs of Red Deer that I could use. So that left sketching up a view out across Exmoor. We discussed whether his family farm was on the coast, with views out to sea or inland.
The farm had been inland and his memories were of fields and moorland.
So a working drawing was sketched up, upon Layout Paper, putting in all of the elements. This was approved before starting the painting. I did tell him that all that scribble in the foreground of the drawing would be heather in the finished picture.
Putting into the drawing the Red Deer more clearly.
Final pencil drawing.

Transferring onto the Canvas

I transferred the drawing onto the canvas using a grid that I drew over the drawing and then the canvas. Drawing the same shapes in each square. If there was a more complicated area, such as the deer. I just halved the squares in that area, to make each square easier to draw.

Lastly, putting down the Paint

The canvas had three coats of Gesso before starting. I then put down a ‘thin’ coat of oil paint over everything. Particularly a dark violet colour in the foreground where the heather was going. Then it was just a question of working my way down the painting, starting with the sky, and adding the detail. I often work this way, putting in as much of the painting ‘All Prima’ (wet on wet), as I can. This way I don’t have to worry about multiple layers of ‘fat on lean’ oil paint. Everything dries in one go, with just a little tweaking when a layer has dried. However, you do need a clear picture in your head of how the picture will look before hand. By the way, the oil paints I used on this painting were Michael Harding Oil Paints and Winsor & Newton, Artists’ Oil Paints, with Round Brushes.

I hope that Paul can sit back, enjoy the painting and remember his Gran.

Note from Paul, “Thank you so much Nick – I love it – perfect and just what I wanted – looking forward to getting it up on the wall.”

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